My Rodgers + Hammerstein guide to trusting in the unknown

This afternoon I stood in front of my full-length bedroom mirror preparing for my Broadway debut. OK, so I haven’t performed onstage since my freshman year choir concerts, and unless you count the stages I’ve sat on while interviewing actors or the time I spent backstage at the Academy of Music while the set for an opera was being built, I have no theater experience to speak of.

But as I swung my arms, kicked my legs and twirled about in my own dazzling dance sequence, I couldn’t help feeling exhilarated. I was singing, too, belting out with gusto the words to “I Have Confidence” from “The Sound of Music.”

I know it is Christmastime and the Rodgers + Hammerstein classic is usually aired at Easter. But even with all my favorite holiday music to accompany me during this season of light, the film’s soundtrack is one I always gravitate toward at this time of year. Yet instead of favorites like “Maria,” “Edelweiss” and “Something Good,” I’ve been returning to that one song repeatedly. It’s the tune Maria sings to boost her fragile courage after leaving the convent to start her new job as a nanny to seven children. What she begins in a timid and doubtful voice evolves into a robust and rallying anthem of self-empowerment; even her footsteps grow increasingly bold as she swings her guitar and valise with peppy enthusiasm.

And as I leap and pirouette in front of my mirror, my own voice is at its most rousing when I get to these lines:

“All I trust I leave my heart to.

All I trust becomes my own.”


That line in particular has become my mantra. I’ve been listening to “The Sound of Music” soundtrack for years, singing along to every tuneful melody, but it was only a few weeks ago that those lyrics leaped out at me. It were as if I were hearing them for the first time, Maria’s attempts to shrug off her fears and face the future assured of her capabilities and strength resonating in my very bones.

Because as I contemplate the big changes I’m about to make in my life, I can’t deny there are moments of terror. Moments where my fitful mind won’t let me fall asleep, or if it does, I wake up with anxiety rattling my chest. After 15 years in the same job and my entire adulthood spent in the career for which I went to college, my decision to leave rather than tolerate untenable circumstances doesn’t come with a safety net. I am taking the chance that the clear, resounding “No” that shot through me when I was made aware of an impending role transition was a true sign something different and better awaited me.

I haven’t sat idle in the days since, waiting for the perfect new opportunity to land in my lap. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been busier than I ever have, investigating and planning and making connections for what could potentially come next.

As I stand on this precipice, the one certainty being there is no going back, I know I will encounter defeatists and naysayers: those who will think me crazy or foolhardy for risking my security, who will anticipate the worst and paint me into their scenarios of failure and calamity. There will be the cynics and pessimists who can’t imagine how anything can be created from nothing but faith and trust, who won’t understand what it’s like to hold one’s value and worth with such sudden and sacred fierceness that to settle into another’s confines for your life is akin to agreeing to a slow and certain withering.

I crave joy and expansion and the wildness of unfettered possibility. And the truth is, most days I have no doubt I am amply prepared for this new chapter. I feel an aliveness and anticipation that trumpet louder than any fear. The space that is opening up is fecund with promise and the opportunities to tend shelved and long-slumbering dreams. What is meant for me will find me. “All I trust becomes my own.”

When those pesky saboteurs of misgiving and panic arise, that’s exactly when I sing my loudest with all of Maria’s brio and determination:

“With each step I am more certain

Everything will turn out fine

I have confidence the world can all be mine

They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me.”


4 thoughts on “My Rodgers + Hammerstein guide to trusting in the unknown

  1. Great song & great blog, Naila! And it’s all TRUE! That door had to close so another one can open. I heard someone on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday the other day say that when you ask the Universe for something, there are 3 possible answers: Yes; Yes, but not right now; No, because you’ll receive something even better. Each is really a “Yes!” for what you do want, which is what I’m sure you’ll encounter now that you’ve said “No!” to what you don’t want. – Gayle


    • Thank you for the enthusiastic encouragement and support, Gayle! And I love that reminder from the Universe! It’s so true. And as much as I love the juiciness of a deserving yes, there can be so much power in saying “No” as well, especially when something is not in alignment with who we are. On to new adventures!


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